10 RV Fire Dangers You Need To Know About

Last Updated on December 30, 2022 by Jess

An electric space heater caused this mobile home fire.

The 10 biggest mobile home fire hazards you should know about

Modern RVs are pretty safe, but RV fire hazards still exist. Something can always go wrong. For example, if the wrong part breaks or you don’t take the necessary precautions, a fire can start inside your RV. This is a danger to you, your belongings and the vehicle itself. The risk of fire in the motorhome should be avoided at all costs.

To reduce the risk of explosive situations, it is best to plan ahead. For example, you can purchase smoke detectors and install them in your RV. That way, you’ll be warned as early as possible if something goes wrong. You can also learn about all the devices in your RV. Learn how to install them safely and avoid dangerous devices that could start an RV fire.

As long as you are careful and follow a good maintenance schedule for your RV, you should be able to minimize the overall risk of an RV fire. At the very least, you will be better prepared in the event of a fire. Also, use common sense and keep flammable items away from hot objects, unplug your RV when you’re not using it, etc.

1. camper propane leaks

One of the biggest fire hazards in an RV is the propane system. Most RVs have a heating system that runs on propane, as well as other appliances that use this fuel. Although this system is usually quite safe, a propane leak can be catastrophic. A single spark can cause the entire vehicle to burst into flames.

To avoid a propane leak, have a propane/natural gas detector installed in your RV. Sometimes you can smell the leak, but by then the damage is usually done. It’s better to have an early warning system so you can get to safety. A good option for RV owners is the EG Natural Gas and Propane Gas Detector.

You should also have your propane tanks checked at least once a year. Keep them tightly closed when not in use.

2. Unattended electric space heaters.

Many RV owners supplement their heating system with one or two propane or electric space heaters. These are fantastic devices that can easily keep your vehicle warm once the temperature drops. However, this is an additional heat source that is definitely one of the biggest fire hazards for RVs.

There are many different propane and electric space heaters available, and some are safer than others. Most models are equipped with safety features and will automatically shut off if they get too hot or are knocked over. Stay away from outdated models that do not have these features.

Also, pay attention to where you place the heater in your RV. Make sure it is not near curtains, paper or other flammable materials.

3. loose objects near the motorhome stove/oven.

Speaking of heat sources: Take a good look at your kitchen layout. RV kitchens tend to be a bit small and cluttered. You have a limited amount of space for all your appliances, ingredients and utensils.

Unfortunately, a crowded, small RV kitchen can lead to disaster. Do everything you can to keep the stove and oven clear. These surfaces can easily catch fire if a loose towel or cord touches them. Unplug and stow all electrical appliances when not in use. Try to keep cords well tucked away.

Of course, use safe practices in the kitchen as well. Don’t leave the stove unattended. Turn off the stove when you are finished using it. Keep surfaces as clean and tidy as possible.

4. camper grills and campfires

Fire hazards often emanate from inside the RV, but sometimes the greater danger comes from outside. If you do a lot of camping, you will probably park near an RV grill or campfire from time to time. That’s not necessarily a problem, especially if you’re careful. But it does present a fire hazard.

Try to keep fires at least 25 feet away from your vehicle. Sparks and embers can still fly up, but they are usually not a problem at this distance. Keep your gas cap tightly closed. Protect your propane tanks and any gasoline you have on hand.

The same rule applies to portable camping grills. It may be tempting to cook under the RV awning, but the smoke, grease and heat can create dangerous conditions.

5. loose wires under the chassis.

There are many fire hazards that are clearly visible, but sometimes the danger comes from underneath. Chassis of motorhomes can sometimes be damaged unnoticed, especially when we are traveling on particularly rough roads. If the belly of the vehicle is scratched and torn, there is an increased risk of fire.

Loose cables and fuel lines can come into contact with heated engine parts and begin to melt. This is incredibly dangerous and especially scary because you probably won’t notice it unless you pay attention.

To fix this problem, crawl under your RV after parking and look for loose wires, mechanical parts, or fuel lines that may be damaged. Secure anything hanging down and look for mysterious leaks or smells. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in your RV in case a spark flares up!

6. camper dryer lint

Not every RV has a washer and dryer, but those that do are at an increased risk of catching fire. RV dryers in particular are dangerous because of the heat they generate. If you do not carefully clean the lint trap and the various vents, the fabric residues can ignite.

Always empty your dryer’s lint trap before starting a new load, even if you feel that not much has accumulated. Better safe than sorry! Also, pay attention to the temperature of the dryer when a wash is done. If it feels unusually warm or smells burning, consult a professional.

Prevent RV fires by cleaning the lint filter in the dryer.
You can prevent the risk of an RV fire by cleaning the lint trap on your RV dryer.

7. problems with the electrical system of the camper.

There are a variety of reasons why your RV’s electrical system can develop problems. But when the wiring stops working properly, it’s easy for a spark to get caught. When that happens, a fire is not far away.

That’s why you should do everything you can to protect and maintain your electrical system. Start by using your outlets sparingly. Don’t plug in a variety of different devices at the same time. Overcrowded outlets can only lead to problems. Unplug them as soon as you no longer need them, and avoid extension cords whenever possible.

You should also inspect the walls and wiring of your RV for signs of rodent damage. If these little critters start nibbling on the wiring, the whole system can break down. Rodents are also one of the biggest fire hazards for RVs.

Finally, check your RV’s 12-volt connections. Loose connections can easily slip and spark, which can lead to a fire.

8. RV refrigerator malfunction

It seems a little strange that an RV refrigerator can cause a fire, but it’s more common than you might think! Some older RVs may have models that have been recalled. Look up your RV refrigerator model so you can see if there are any defects or recalls.

Clean your RV’s vents and coils from time to time to prevent dust buildup. If too much dust accumulates in these areas, they can overheat and even catch fire. Also, make sure your refrigerator is as level as possible, especially if you have an RV absorption refrigerator. These have boilers that can easily overheat if tilted at the wrong angle.

9. worn motorhome wheels and brakes.

Don’t overlook the mechanical parts of your RV either. When you’re traveling at high speeds in a heavy vehicle, things can heat up very quickly. The brakes and wheels of the RV are put under a lot of stress. They must be kept in perfect condition.

Follow the RV maintenance schedule to change your wheels and repair/replace brakes as needed. The last thing you want is for these parts to break or spark while driving. This could cause an accident and the heat could reach the fuel tank.

10. old camper batteries

Finally, be sure to regularly maintain and replace your RV batteries. If the battery acid evaporates, it can overheat and catch fire. Some old batteries have even exploded!

Batteries wear out over time. However, they break down more quickly if you store them in poor conditions or overcharge them regularly.

Keep track of the maintenance of your motorhome

Keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool like RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all your documents in one place, but you’ll also be reminded of maintenance due in a timely manner to avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.

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